EPA Awards Grant to University of Montana to Support Fish Advisory and Consumption Awareness | U.S. EPA News Releases

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News Releases from Region 08

09/16/2020

MISSOULA, Mont. (September 16, 2020) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 announced an award of $128,992 to the University of Montana to support fish advisory and consumption awareness related to fish harvested through invasive species reduction efforts in Flathead Lake, Montana and made available to food pantries.

“EPA Region 8 has a strong history of working with our state and tribal partners to enhance environmental and human health in the Columbia River Basin,” said EPA Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin. “I am pleased to announce this grant award to the University of Montana to monitor methylmercury in fish from Flathead Lake and impacts on users of local food pantries in western Montana.”

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have made a concerted effort to suppress the invasive lake trout population and give the trout caught to local food pantries. The project will assess the fish advisory and consumption awareness among food pantry members who receive lake trout and other fish.

Funds will be used to support six employees, research costs, sample analysis, and travel costs. The project will also initiate a monitoring scheme to estimate a baseline condition of methylmercury that differentiates between atmospheric inputs and changes due to the lake trout suppression. Based on the results, the project will host a half-day workshop with tribal environmental managers, health professionals, and other decision makers to plan for the best uses of the data. Flathead Lake is part of the Columbia River drainage basin, and this project fulfills Columbia River Basin Restoration Program goals of monitoring to evaluate trends and promoting citizen engagement.

Background

The Columbia River Basin Restoration Program was created in 2016, through an amendment to the Clean Water Act. It established both a Funding Assistance Program and a working group made up of state governments, tribal governments, industry representatives, and others.  

Under the Clean Water Act, water quality is addressed by reducing pollution, including toxics that can accumulate in water, sediment, and fish tissues. Tribal people and other populations who rely on fish for a substantial portion of their diet can be particularly affected by pollution in the basin.  

To learn more about EPA’s work in the Columbia River Basin on tribal fish consumption, chemicals of emerging concern, and other related topics, please visit https://www.epa.gov/columbiariver 

For more about the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program, as well as to read summaries of each grant recipient’s work, please visit:  https://www.epa.gov/columbiariver/columbia-river-basin-restoration-funding-assistance-program  

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